About the GRE - Overview

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is an admissions test used around the world to screen graduate school applicants in a multitude of disciplines in the arts and sciences. The GRE is intended to test verbal and quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing ability. The GRE presumes fluency in English, but its verbal reasoning sections emphasize efficient reading and understanding words in context, rather than memorization. There are a total of six test sections: first an analytical writing section composed of two independently-timed writing tasks, then a random order of two Quantitative Analysis sections, two Verbal Reasoning sections, and one experimental/research section, which can be either quantitative or verbal.

The GRE is accepted at thousands of graduate and business schools. The importance of a GRE score can vary from being a formaility to being one of the most important factors in graduate school admissions. The importance placed upon GRE scores varies widely among schools and even among departments within schools.

The GRE can be either a computer-based or paper-based examination. The format and content of the test were significantly revised in 2011. The test is no longer adaptive on a question-to-question basis, but the computer exam is still adaptive on a section-to-section basis. For the paper-based test, all sections are weighted the same and have the same difficulty. However, computer test takers who perform well on their first quantitative and verbal sections can "level up" and face more difficult questions during subsequent sections. Because each section is static, however, it is possible to review and change your answers, making time management especially important. It is also possible to "mark and review" your answers, making it easy to revisit difficult questions. There is no penalty for an incorrect answer, so it is best to choose an answer for every question even if you must guess.

The GRE examination lasts approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes, with a 1-minute break after each section and a 10-minute break after the third section. The GRE is scored on a scale of 130-170, with writing sections scored on a scale of 0.5-6.0. For more frequently asked questions, please consult our FAQ page.